Monday, March 8, 2010

A Summary of the History of St. Mary's College Kisubi

St. Mary’s College Kisubi owes its academic prowess to the vision and mission and goal the founders set for the College.

1899 At the beginning of 1899, the Catholic Chiefs under the leadership of Stanislas Mugwanya raised the question of higher education for Catholic youths. By then Rev. Father Achte (the Povicar who was then Superior of Lubaga Parish) was acting in the place of Bishop Streicher who was then in Europe.

1900 During the White Fathers’ General Chapter at Algiers in 1900, Rev. Father Achte and Father Moullec laid the question for consideration by the August Assembly. It is then, under the Superior General of the Society, His Lordship Livinhac, the Founder of the Mission that the plea by Stanislas Mugwanya was presented. It was duly read, discussed and agreed upon.

1901 The idea of establishing a formal education system in Uganda is conceived and the task is given to Father Gaudipea of the White Fathers.

1906 St. Mary’s College is founded at Lubaga by Father Modeste Raux a French White Father.

1907 Having started with a small number of students, the College’s students’ population rose to 80 with good lodging at Lubaga Hill.

1908 The pillar of SMACK, Father Modeste Raux leaves the country. That time many students and teachers were enlisted into the army mainly as interpreters.

1919 On the Easter day, the Old Boys of the College meet for the first time at Lubaga as a sign of solidarity.

1922 Bishop Streitcher and Bishop John Forbes realize an urgent need for teaching Brothers at St. Mary’s College. Lubaga Bishop Forbes goes to Canada to the Brothers of Christian Instruction to try and recruit teachers. During that time, 4 schools were founded to feed St. Mary’s College. They are:
1. St. Henry’s High School– Kitovu.
2. St. John’s High School – Nandere.
3. St. Leo’s High School – Virika.
4. St. Joseph’s High School – Nyamitanga.

1924 On 11th January 1924, Bishop Forbes with the approval of Pope Pius XI paid a visit to the General House of Brothers of Christian Instruction on Jersey Island in the English Channel to recruit Brothers from the Major Superiors of the Congregation to come to Uganda and solve the problem of teachers. The then Superior General Father John Joseph agreed to send four Brothers in 1926. On 12th May 1924, St. Mary’s College was transferred to Kisubi as the facilities at Lubaga were inadequate. The building and development at Kisubi started straight away.

1926 Reverand Father Michaud (late Bishop) and Father Nadom of the White Fathers hand over SMACK to Brother Charles and his companion of Brothers of Christian Instruction from Canada.

1929 SMACK won the prize offered by the Governor to the first student in English Composition. During the Golden Jubilee of the coming of Catholicism to Uganda, SMACK students under Brother Stanislaus put up a spectacular gymnastic show at the current Lubaga Boys’ School football ground.

1930 The Blazer and a School Anthem are introduced.

1932 There is a great influx of Brothers to Kisubi after a plague out break in Bulemezi, which affected St. John’s School Nandere. This influx helped SMACK’s further development as many senior Brothers joined the College.

1934 SMACK celebrated the Silver Jubilee after it had been postponed for 3 years. This coincided with the College’s tenth anniversary after it was transferred from Lubaga.

1936 SMACK registers the first class of school certificate.

1938 The Second World War greatly affects the College developments. In the same year, an Assembly Hall, a Refectory and teachers’ houses are constructed.

1940 On 27th May 1940, Students voted in favour of the House system and also electing of their own prefects. So, Lourdel; Mugwanya; Kakoza and Kiwanuka came into being. 8th December 1940 was speech day during which the New Assembly Hall was opened as well as a new laboratory.

1941 Electricity was received at St. Mary’s College Kisubi.

1942 His LordShip Bishop Michaud visited St. Mary’s College Kisubi. The staff and students thanked him for having helped the college to build a Refectory, Dormitory and latrines.

1943 On 2nd August 1943, His Royal Highness Kabaka Mutesa II paid an official visit to the school. On 23rd August 1943, Master Gregory Wademi finished making two Eagles, which were to be placed at the base of the school flag. On 29th August 1943, Reverend Brother. Camillus was sewing and preparing the school flag: A Silver Eagle on a blue background. The school colours forming the two halves of the flag: blue and gold. And on 31/8/43 the flag was erected. On 4th September 1943, the Board of Governors for Kisubi College held their first meeting.

1944 Sebastian Nsubuga, the longest dedicated Laboratory Assistant joined St. Mary’s College for a 3-year course. He was requested to stay at the Biology Laboratory. He is now retired from Government service, but still pushing on with service to SMACK.

1947 Inter-house competitions were opened on 18th September 1947.

1948 Piped water from Nabinonya starts flowing, saving the students from the long and tiresome trek to the lake. Wooden beds were also replaced with spring beds.

1951 Mr. J.C. Kiwanuka is appointed first Layman on the teaching staff. August 12th 1952 was the 25th Anniversary of the arrival of the Brothers to Kisubi.

1952 The Chairman of the Old Boys Mr. J. C. Kiwanuka makes an appeal for a Higher School Certificate (HSC) at SMACK before Governor Andrew Cohen at the College’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations. The same year, 86-year old Father Modeste Raux plants a Commemorative tree and Bishop Cabana blesses the statue of Our Lady of Kisubi; the Art Work of Brother Anthony Kyemwa while a Fine Art student at Makerere University. In September of the same year, Father Albert Fleskins founded the Young Christian Society (YCS) of Uganda at SMACK.

1959 HSC is granted as per Mr. J.C. Kiwanuka’s request and the HSC Block was built.

1960 The Brother’s Chapel was consecrated by Cardinal Rugambwa (RIP), was from Bukoba, Tanzania and the first Bishop to be appointed Cardinal in East Africa. In the same year, John Okello a student at St. Mary’s College Kisubi represented Uganda in the Olympics in hurdles.

1963 The College Chapel was built.

1964 SMACK becomes A Sports power. In the same year, on 14th November, 12 students die in a tragic motor accident 12 miles Entebbe Road (near Kevina House) after a victory match.

1965 Father Modeste Raux died and was buried at Kisubi Parish Church Cemetery. Lord Snowdown officiated at the opening of the Memorial Library to remember the 12 students who perished in a road accident in 1964.

1966 The Sick Bay, the Main Hall and a Laboratory were built.

1969 I. Brother Anthony Joseph Kyemwa is appointed first African Headmaster of St. Mary’s College Kisubi, ending the 43-year era of the White Brothers. He was Headmaster for 14 years, making the longest serving Headmaster up to 1982 when he officially handed over.
II. Brother Kyemwa’s administration wanted to change the approach to education at St. Mary’s College, so he sent out teachers to other schools to collect information in respect of school administration; school programmes; teachers; school activities and organization. The information got was complied and comparisons made with what was being done at St. Mary’s then hence a new approach leading to the changing of what the expatriates’ approach had been and this was a re-birth of St. Mary’s College Kisubi.
III. President Obote visited the school on March 15, 1969 he was invited by the Cultural Club of the school. He addressed the school community in the Assembly Hall.
IV. Idi Amin visited the school as head of Uganda Army. He came with his officers for two reasons:
1) To offer condolences for the 12 boys who had lost their lives in a road accident involving an army lorry and the school truck.
2) To interest the students to join the national army as officer cadets.

1970 The Vice – President of Uganda, Hon. John Babiha, also an OB of SMACK visited the school. He was offering the school animals so as to get started on Agriculture, but the school declined the offer, as it was not ready.

1980 Brother Kyemwa had no holiday up to 1980 when he broke off. The main reason was that during Idi Amin’s time as President, there was scarcity of commodities, and as Headmaster, he had to be there in person to get these supplies for the school not anybody else.

1980 Brother Kafeero was Acting Headmaster for 3 years until Brother Kyemwa came back from his leave and retired in 1982.

1983 The 75th Anniversary of the founding of St. Mary’s College Kisubi. The 75th Anniversary Road ( SMACK Road) was opened by the then Minister of Public Service the Late Sam Sebagereka.

1987 The re-launching of the Eagle Magazine by Brother J.V. Tinkasimire.

1991 Mr.Leonard Muganwa an Old Boy introduced Rugby to the school.

1994 The SMACK Computer Centre was launched.

1995 The SMACK Interact Club emerges the best Interact Club in East and Central Africa.

1996 The purchase of a school bus (Air force One).

1998 There were belated Celebrations for the College’s 90th Foundation anniversary. Cricket was also introduced the same year.

1999 Work on the Junior Library started. In the same year, Music was introduced as one of the examinable subjects.

2000 Official opening of the opening of the HSc Reading block and Junior Library by Hon. G. Namirembe Bitamazire.

2002 Hon. Edward Sekandi an Old Boy and Speaker of Uganda Parliament laid the Foundation Stone for the HSc Dormitory under construction (the biggest project at SMACK so far).

2003 The Launch of preparations of SMACK 100 years celebrations by H.E the Vice President of Uganda, Prof. Gilbert B. Bukenya an Old Boy of SMACK.

2004 A new Music System/Public Address System donated by Charlie Lubega an Old Boy was brought to SMACK.

2005 13th August SMACK 100 Charity Walk in Kampala with Hon. Edward Sekandi as Chief Walker. 14th August Launch of SMACK celebrations at the school campus by Bishop Robert Gay.
This was by William Kituuka - Editor SMACK Centenary Magazine


  1. Dear Mr William Kituuka Kiwanuka

    There is a fascinating piece on your blog about Stanislaus Mugwanya. Unfortunately I found it very difficult to read, and wondered if it was possible to find a clearer copy. The reason why I am interested is because I believe that his son (Benoit?) came to the college that I teach in, here in Manchester in England. I am researching how the First World War affected students from our college one hundred years ago, and I am trying to find out how the war impacted on Benoit. If you think that you might be able to help, then I hope that you will be able to reply: